Q&A: German cosplayer Xanti talks about GamesCom weapons ban and the life of a cosplayer

At GamesCom last week, Slingshot’s Jess Pohl had the chance to catch up with Xanti Cosplay, a male cosplayer from Germany who has been promoting the game Final Fantasy XV at the Square Enix booth, representing the game’s main character Noctis.

Jess Pohl: You’ve just been promoting FFXV at GamesCom, working at the Square Enix booth. Did you enjoy the job? How did fans act towards you? Respectful or were some “fangirls” annoying in a way?

Xanti: Yes, totally! I’m really grateful that I got this opportunity. Most of the fans only cared about the throne and the sword that were at the booth. I think many of them saw the game for the first time and due to that didn’t recognize the characters that we cosplayed. But the people who knew the characters were very respectful to us.

JP: How did you get along with the other people promoting at the booth? Some of them, as I know, were real life friends but there were others you didn’t know at all, right?

Xanti: Actually, I know all of them! They already worked for the Final Fantasy booth at other conventions. So, I think it’s safe to say we got all along perfectly.

JP: How did you get into contact with Square and finally got the job?

Xanti: My cosplay group wore our Final Fantasy XV Cosplays at the Role Play Convention for the first time. Square Enix were there, too, and asked us if we were “Square Enix Friends,” some kind of membership where you get all the news for fan gatherings and that kind of stuff. We registered for it and some weeks before GamesCom they asked us if we want to work at their FFXV booth.

JP: For how long have you been cosplaying already and when and why did you start to cosplay?

Xanti: Good question! I guess I started in 2009? But like many of my cosplaying friends, the good costumes came some time later. In a magazine I saw some people cosplaying at conventions and thought it was a cool idea to try it! So I searched for a convention that wasn’t to far away, found one and made a “more bad than good “ cosplay.

Ezreal-League of Legends. Photo by Zaikoor Art.
Ezreal-League of Legends. Photo by Zaikoor Art.

JP: When deciding on a new cosplay, what are thoughts going into the decision? Material costs? The personality of the character? Or just if it looks cool?

Xanti: It’s a really good question! I think it depends on the situation. When I’m starting a game, movie or whatever, I chose the character with a personality I like. But sometimes my friends are asking if I would cosplay this or that guy and I will go by how the character looks.

JP: What has been your best experience at this years GamesCom and were you able to walk around a bit and check out other things or were you bound to the SE booth due to your job?

Xanti: To interact and talk with all the Final Fantasy fans and coworkers. Yeah, we had enough time to walk around the GamesCom but I was so into my job that I didn’t visit all halls.

JP: What are your thoughts on the weapon rules at GamesCom this year? As a model for SE, you were allowed to bring in your weapons. Do you feel this is unfair to others, whose weapons clearly resemble something straight out of a fantasy game as well? Did you receive any hate from other cosplayers for this?

Xanti: I think I can understand why GamesCom made this drastic step. Some cosplayers with really fantasy-like weapons made it into the GamesCom, so it depends. Weapons like katanas, guns and that kind of stuff make some “normal” visitors nervous, especially after what happened in Europe and Germany the last months. A friend of mine who cosplays Garen from League of Legends got the permission to get his sword in one day and another day they didn’t allow it. And suprisingly, yes! I heard some people, normal visitors and cosplayers, saying some stuff behind my back as I walked past them.

JP: What does GamesCom need to change next year to attract more cosplayers again? A lot of them seemed to be missing this year simply due to the weapon rule changes.

Xanti: First of all, GamesCom is a convention for games and not for cosplays so I think some of them are overreacting. I can understand that many of them think it’s a stupid rule but GamesCom wants to be peaceful and friendly to anyone visiting it. But I hope that they find a way to please both sides next year.

JP: Out of all the characters you cosplayed so far, who is your favorite and why?

Xanti: Tough question! I think it’s probably my latest cosplay, Noctis Lucis Caelum, the main character from Final Fantasy XV. I made many good memories with this cosplay and my group, for example working for Square Enix at the GamesCom! And I’m really curious what comes next.

JP: The cosplay scene in general can be quite toxic, with people name-shaming and trash talking a lot behind each others backs, while being nice when they meet each other. Have you experienced this yourself so far as well and what is the best way to deal with it and not get discouraged?

Xanti: Isn’t every scene like this? I don’t think you can find a place where everyone loves you and doesn’t say mean things. I hear this quite a lot about myself, that I’m an arrogant prick for example. But I don’t care about those people. And if other people trust these lies without a proof well, why should I care?

JP: What is the next cosplay fans can expect to see from you?

Xanti: I don’t have any final plans but I think you can expect some more Final Fantasy cosplays.

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Cloud Strife-Final Fantasy VII. Photo by Zaikoor Art.

JP: Overall, do you think cosplay is getting more international? Quite often you see people from all over Europe fly to conventions in other countries now, even when not being invited as a cosplay guest.

Xanti: Oh yes, totally! And i think it’s great.

JP: Do you exclusively play offline titles or can your fans play anything online with you as well?

Xanti: At the moment, yes! Currently I don’t have the time or the motivation to play other things than offline titles, especially retro games.

JP: Do you follow the eSports scene at all, since you also used to cosplay characters from League of Legends for example?

Xanti: 2-3 years ago, yeah. I watched some LoL tournaments with friends and stuff like that. But many of my friends and me, too, lost interest in it. And playing alone after some time is really stressful. The community is so toxic that I lost even the last bit of interest for this game.

JP: Any last words to your fans?

Xanti: Not to my fans but to my other cosplay friends. Have fun and don’t care what others say! Cosplaying is a great hobby with great people. And thank you for this interview!

You can follow Xanti on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to stay updated on everything revolving around his cosplays and his love for pugs!

Cover photo: Anna Henatsch, facebook.com/AnnaHenatschPhotography/